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Nikon D1H

Review Date: Apr 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: reliability, IQ
ergonomics, batteries, primitive color handling

Remember when Nikon made a cutting edge, high performance DSLR that could shoot through anything without missing a beat? Yeah, me too.

Seriously, this camera handles noise well, makes a sharp file, is fast enough in every respect (AF, buffer/write speed, etc.) and is a total workhorse. I've been issued these by several employers and they just keep working. Many have outlived much younger D2H's.

My main gripe concer the primitive ergonomics, especialy shooting verticals (no sub-command dial, small and deeply recessed AF button). and the batteries are NiMH so they suffer memory effects and the camera chews through a charge quicky (a day or so). But they are the best available when the camera was made. Also there are strange hue shifts under vapor and tungsten lights, especially in the reds, which can be tough to fix in post.

There's something to be said for small, sharp files and their light demands on computer memory. I've cropped to 2/3 frame and printed at 11x17. It looks pretty good from a foot or two away. Up close and you can tell the image is a little pixel-poor.

Standards have surpassed the camera, but it still serves it's intended purpose adequately. Still, I'm not sure why one would buy one of these today...

Nikon D2Hs

Review Date: Apr 8, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Speed (AF, buffer/write speed and shutter lag), IQ if you nail exposure and WB at low ISO
Terrible IQ at high ISO or with underexposure at low ISO, Quality control (shutter/meter issue)

I was issued one of these by my employer and was very mixed on the camera. For daytime shooting, it was great: super-fast in every respect and with proper exposure and WB the files were fantastic. As a result, I shot RAW exclusively, even though I was shooting for newsprint.

At ISO 640, it started to fall apart and above 800, I reached for the D1H.

Underexposure of a stop or more led to strange color shifts that were hard to correct in post and the noise has an ugly, blotchiness. Histograms and blinking highlights were inaccurate (blinked when channels weren't clipped), which could lead to underexposure unless the photog compensated.

Ergonomics of the D2H were (and are for subsequent D2 series) great. AF was fast and accurate even in low light, AF tracking worked well. Battery life is phenomenal (I could shoot for a week on a single charge) and the weight is reasonable (unlike the Canon 1-series, IMO).

The main qualification, as I said, regards IQ: top-notch for well-tuned files, but it's a steep drop if shooting conditions or photog technique deteriorate.

Canon EOS 1D

Review Date: Oct 27, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $1,000.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: frame rate, AF tracking
weight, buffer size/write speed, high ISO noise, battery life, low light AF, menus system can be obscure at times

The fact that we're still talking about a 5 year old camera says a lot, but in comparison to modern bodies this camera shows its age. The camera was designed for sports and daily journalism and while it still gets that job done, modern cameras definitely make the job easier.

Modern IQ standards have gone way up, both in pixel count and noise control. Also, handling has improved in areas like battery life, buffering/write speed and menu accessibility.

I do like the camera and use it for daily work. Still, there are niches in the market where the files just won't make the cut. If you're on a budget and need something to get the job done, this'll do nicely. In many respects though, you can do better elsewhere at the same price.